Juvenile Delinquency

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The rate of juvenile delinquency has in the recent past tremendously increased recording startling figures (Arabella, p.671). This has forced immediate law and justice intervention.  Juveniles who are described as minors or children, having not yet attained the legal age of an adult, are a posing threat to the future security of the state. Delinquent acts slowly graduate to serious crimes in the future years meaning that there are minimal or no chances of juvenile delinquents recovering from the vices. They may instead become professional criminals. Various factors are attributed to the rising behavior of delinquents. Arabella (2002, p.674) in her research claims that most juvenile delinquents dropped out of school, she also attributes the behavior to low IQ levels, antisocial behavior, family criminal records and difficult parental rearing practices (Arabella, 2002). Violent uprisings and rebelling against authority as a result of political instability have contributed to rise in delinquent criminal indulgence in various parts of the world .The media which highly publicizes criminal activity has also been mentioned amongst the top factors leading to juvenile delinquency (Arabella, 2002, p.672).

Delinquent trends vary from one state to another due to social factors which are highly attributed to criminal behavior. In Europe and Mexico for instance the teens and gangs are deviant and indulge in law breaking recklessly. They indulge in violence, internet, global prostitution and illicit drug abuse (Siegel &Welsh, 2009, p.576).  Violence which is top on the list has caused harm in Western Europe living the society fearful of the future the teen are making. One case reported a 19 year old male who killed two of his fellow students, 14 teachers and a police officer ranking the crime as the second worst in German history since World War II (Siegel & Welsh, 2002, p.577). In America there have been reports on students who possess ammunitions and kill each other in recent years. School shootings are also not unusual, since teenagers can possess guns prevalence in juvenile delinquency has risen. Juvenile delinquency however is a vice that the society needs to address keenly and make sure that it is eradicated. It is an irresponsible trend taken by young people who have capacity to be productive as they are still young. Being delinquent is harmful and promises no hope for the society, it is imperative to strategize means that will help curb the vices before they progress and get out of hand.

Probation

Probation is defined as a process of confinement or seclusion from the normal life in order to instill discipline or modify ones behavior. When an individual is on probation their rights are restricted since they pose as a threat to the society. The state which stipulates the regulations to be followed has a responsibility to deal with all law offenders including delinquents. Juvenile delinquents for instance require special behavior correction which can only take place if probation is offered. Probation is highly useful as it works in favor of the society and the delinquent. It is a type of treatment offered to delinquents without imprisonment and legal dispositions. The juvenile justice system offers probation as the most suitable method of treatment.

It normally is an arrangement system where individuals are given a suspended sentence for an indefinite period of time depending on jurisdiction statutes. The law can mandate it or the decision can be left to the court .This in most cases occurs if the offence committed is minor and has no major implications. It further clarifies that the individual has to maintain stipulated laws under supervision. The delinquent though not confined is constantly under the probation officers eye. The probation officer has a right to discharge delinquents who gradually prove to be adjusting and modifying their behavior through treatment. Some of the requirements that the delinquent should meet are ability to moderately live, be financially responsible as well as have a productive life. Failing to meet the requirements stipulates that the individual is put on probation in an institution. Alternatively methods to avoid being under an institution are implemented for instance they are placed under custody of a stable family also referred to as foster care (Juvenile probation office, 2009).

The use of electronic monitoring is a technology whereby juvenile delinquents are under observation from authority making it easy to track their movements and behavior while on probation. It is a workable local alternative and helps in monitoring delinquents through cheaper means.  Most professionals opt for this alternative as it decreases public safety thereby minimizing delinquency (Bilchik, 1997). It benefits the government too since placement costs are reduced greatly. It is advantageous as the local authority can afford it and us it to serve the communal purposes of eradicating criminal behavior. Some local jurisdictions have noted a tremendous decline in the amount they spent on the electronic monitoring project as compared to officer placement costs. There may be more expansions on electronic monitoring as it has adverse benefits.

Restorative justice seeks to involve participation by victims and consensus; the individuals are involved in face to face dialogues in order to resolve the conflict. It is a way of restoring the lost trust and healing. It seeks to avoid repetition of similar crime by the delinquent. It works well if the offences involved are minor and battery offences. Restorative justice seeks direct accountability through making the delinquent face his actions. A delinquent gets to see the consequences of their behavior and how it has hurt other people, they are further expected to explain why they indulged in the ill vice and steps they will take to repair the damage done. Finally the main and sole purpose is reconciling the victim and offender so as to strengthen the society a large and promote harmonious living (Morris& Maxwell, 1988, p.5-6).

Restitution as an alternative method is effective in getting rid of delinquent behavior. There was a noted increase in the number of people who completed restitution as a probation program (Siegel & Welsh, 2002, p.543). However it does not entirely help in solving the crisis that delinquency brings. Restitution orders are not standardized making it impossible to give fair and equal treatment to delinquents. They are also costly and monetary restitutions cannot be accessed by all individuals for instance those unemployed. Probation officers feel threatened too, the program as threatens their authority and organizational autonomy (Siegel & Welsh, 2002, p.543).

Treatment options

In an effort to help reduce juvenile delinquency there has been creation centers of rehabilitation build to ensure that juveniles serve sentences as per the crime committed and come out as law abiding citizens. It is very necessary to offer correctional treatment for delinquents so as to avoid further spread of the vice as well as deter other delinquents from following suit.  Two major divisions have been set apart to help in correcting delinquent behavior; community and institutional treatment (Siegel &Welsh, 2009, p.530).While community treatment is one that offers care and protections to juveniles institutional treatment is a federal correctional institution. Some of the roles that community treatment plays are probation, counseling, restitution amongst others.  Community treatment is offered in private institutions for instance rehabilitation schools, boarding schools, care homes and centers. For those who are nonresidents the treatment is done at their homes. They are expected to follow the rules stated and also be keen on what is instructed. Vocational counseling is organized at given times when the individuals receive counseling in an aid to modify their attitudes and behavior eventually.

Institutional treatment is stricter as it deals with the state law directly. The delinquent is restricted of any freedom of movement and is under a watchful eye throughout. There are locked exits and security fences to ensure that the individual is fully confined.  Juvenile institutions serve the purpose of behavior correction as they focus on a specific crime and aim to rectify the vice. For proper coordination of the process of correcting behavior institutional treatment offers reception centers which help in screening them so as to identify where they fall suitably. Other facilities which are specialized assign where individuals who have been badly affected by substance abuse get help from. This are called specialized centers. Some delinquents need long term training and this happens in facilities like vocational centers, training schools and reformatories which offer treatment suitably. Other institutions that offer long term treatment s are forestry and boot camps (Mcgloin, 2009).

Boot camps emphasize on physical exercises and activities as a form of rectifying ill vices from the delinquents, forestry camps aims at modifying behavior through long term residential care (Siegel &Welsh, 2009, p. 530). The boot camps aim at developing toughness and learn social skills in individuals. If the delinquents are no longer in their comfort zone they will learn how to deal with future challenges and coping rather than indulging in criminal activities. Though there is use of minimal therapy to correct offending behavior, boot camps have helped in creating  rapport between the staff and juveniles, environmental  positive attitudes and relieving stress factors through physical exercises (Bilchik, 1997).

Institutional treatment thus offers treatment under institutions or facilities specially designed for purposes of treatment and behavior rectification through physical and psychological activities.

Institutionalization

Most juvenile delinquents are held in public or sometimes private custody. Public custodies have been set up to confine them and help in behavior modification. In a public setting the delinquents stay together regardless of the offence committed. Between years 91-03 there was an increase in the number of juvenile delinquent in custody (Siegel &Welsh, 2009, p. 549) meaning there had to be expansion of public facilities so as to contain them. All in all the number of delinquents varies in states and whereas one state has more centers for the other may have fewer depending on the crime rates. The institutions vary in size and quality too; some have large dormitories to act as correctional institutions while others are fully equipped with all the modern requirements with all correctional facilities such as dining halls, gyms, library and auditoriums (Murray, 2010).

In most cases when a juvenile is institutionalized they stay away from home for 3-4 months in a private or public institution ((Morris& Maxwell, 1988, p.5-6). The younger delinquents are taken in by private institutions while those ranging from 18-21 years go to public institutions (Arabella, 2002, p.691). Most juveniles are normally under the influence of drug or substance abuse which has long term effects on them and accelerates them to committing crimes. As a result of drug abuse most of them suffer mental and emotional instability making it crucial to be rehabilitated. It has however been noted that most of the delinquents who are admitted in the institutions normally have problems adjusting to the new changes making them worse and rebellious when expected to get involved in the programs asserts Bilchik (1997).  Behavior modification is not usually an easy process as the delinquents have to adjust to a change in rules and behavior so as to be disciplined.

Relationships between juvenile delinquents vary as individuals end up finding friends who walk with them through the period.

Male inmates are more likely to bond with those who are from their own racial or ethnical backgrounds. This is done to feel secure and also exploit those who do not belong to their group. Peer influence is a common factor in the inmates. Most of them join gang groups to get protection from harassment by older or the more popular gang of inmates (Arabella, 2002). They normally have intentions to attack or manipulate staff so as to get better services while locked behind bars.

Female inmates on the other hand do not get involved in peer pressure often. The restrictions on their institutions are tougher making exploitation or harassment minimal between inmates. Though there has been a noted increase in the number of female inmate’s inmate, there are lesser rehabilitation activities in the female centers as compared to the male ones. The girls are however more likely to be incarcerated for status offences as compared to the male inmates. They lack social skills and suffer low self esteem issues like the male inmates (Ritter, 2010).

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